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Autobiography Thought

From Laura at Sarsaparilla:

Helen Garner spoke next... she said that she has always kept diaries, and twice in her life she’d burned those diaries. The first time was when she was leaving home and didn’t want her parents going through her belongings (!), and once, much later, when she was moving house and had done something she didn’t normally do, that being go back and look at old diary pages. She said she’d chosen the date of some major event, “something like the Dismissal”, and looked to see what she’d written about it - but she had not written anything; it was all boring and narcissistic stuff about her feelings and her close personal relationships. This she found embarrassing enough to destroy all the volumes of diary which followed that pattern, and she said they only changed when she and her child went to live in France and began to fill her journals with descriptions of places, people, conversations and things - she said these journals suddenly became interesting.


In the case of her own diary writing Garner was quite definite that the latter kind of writing was the kind she wanted to preserve (and perhaps one day to open up for other people to see), but the former was of no interest to anyone, not even herself, and in fact was a positive embarrassment.

Amid all this the word “blog” was not spoken, though it was certainly there in my mind, and as I found out afterwards, in the minds of a few other listeners. I wonder what you people who read weblogs and perhaps write them think about the issue - is it a true opposition? Is one kind of writing more embarrassing than the other? Does it all depend on how the individual writer carries things out, or can we begin to make some useful generalisations at this stage of the game?

I find this interesting because it touches on things I'm thinking as I write Twenty-Six Lies/One Truth. The book is what I'm calling a distorted autobiography, which means that I'm playing around with the expectations you have whenever you encounter anyone writing about their life, but still, anyone who reads it is going to know that it's my life here. My friends, my family, maybe even you if I met you once, and we found ourselves robbing an ice cream truck... they're all in this book. And it's like that because it came from here, this blog.

I blog with my blog voice, which is a bit different to my normal, every day voice. I used to worry about the difference, but the fact is, a blog post is a miniature piece of writing. On this blog, at least, it has got to be self contained, and while it is about me, you wouldn't exactly say that I spend a lot of time talking about my average, every day events. But when the offer came to do Twenty-Six Lies/One Truth, it was never going to involve anything but me--it was going to take the voice, the person who is here, in this blog, and push that up into a properly written piece of work. I'm not sure if you will understand the difference, but I suppose it has to do with rewriting, thinking, adding layers. I blog, it must be said, off the top of my head, so everything that comes through here is stream of consciousness, a thought that I have and run out till the end.

Anyhow: just a random thought and a link. Back to writing the actual book now.


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Aug. 2nd, 2006 05:00 am (UTC)
I'm with Ms Garner on this one. I wrote stacks of diaries when I was young -- from really young to the turgid art school angst years. The only one of them that doesn't stink is the diary my parents forced me to keep when our family travelled through Europe and the Pacific. My ten-year-old view of the world is cute & I collected heaps of things like bus tickets & museum passes, etc. The rest of my youthful diarising is a load of "boring narcissistic" tripe, utterly devoid of any actual information. They were not written with anything other than my own eyes in mind.

I also have copies of letters I wrote to friends while travelling as an older person. These are more interesting, but still probably only to me.

Blogging is different because I expect at least a couple of people might read what I write, so I write with readers in mind.
Aug. 2nd, 2006 06:56 am (UTC)
yeah, i have to admit, i don't disagree with garner on the work she wants to preserve. any time i actually started to try a diary, it was just useless and boring in that way that they all are. yet, here, where it's different, i can keep to a daily blogging schedule.
Aug. 2nd, 2006 05:33 am (UTC)
Hmm, I tend avoid mentioning things like global politics and events in my blog, because I feel I'm just not up to the task. So I wonder if I'll end up like Garner, feeling all narcissistic and etc.

Am even more eager to read the completed Twenty-Six Lies/One Truth.
Aug. 2nd, 2006 06:58 am (UTC)
i don't go for a while lot of global politics--i know i don't know enough, so i refrain a lot. but there are times when it's worth taking a punt and seeing what you get (however, this blog is a lot different to yours).

anyhow, i have to say, 26six is shaping up nice. i've seen the proposed cover--like an early version of it, and its super sweet.
Aug. 2nd, 2006 07:08 am (UTC)
(however, this blog is a lot different to yours)

Yes, it's a lot less narcissistic, for a start ;-)

I think I once had pretensions to actually write about philosophy in my journal, but it ended up being a means of keeping in touch with people and recording my state of mind. which means that it occasionally covers philosophy and other factors associated with post-graduate studies (angst, depression, self-loathing, feeling like an enormous fraud, etc.)

Yours is clearly a writers blog, there's some personal stuff mixed in, but, as you say, it's written in a 'blog voice', which is neither a fully developed author's voice, nor an attempt at capturing your everyday voice.
Aug. 2nd, 2006 07:15 am (UTC)
Yes, it's a lot less narcissistic, for a start ;-)

i'm sure that depends on who you ask ;)

at one stage, i was actually going to make this thing a bit more personal. but in the end, the blog had just become a place where that wasn't a place for it. especially since i can be fairly dramatic just for amusement. but yours is a lot more intimate than mine, and i read it, which is to be admired in itself. (there are blogs i don't read because their intimacy isn't of much interest to me.)

my every day voice creeps out here, in the comments. i've basically got it to: The Blog Voice has capitals. the everyday voice does not.
Aug. 3rd, 2006 12:10 pm (UTC)
I look forward to being able to buy the book. It's ben a while, so I can't remember if the story told as questions is available to purchase. If it is, please could you tell me from where?
Aug. 3rd, 2006 12:30 pm (UTC)
hey there. i haven't seen you round for a while. you been good?

the story got reprinted in the year's best australian science fiction and fantasy, 2005. you can buy it here:


and here's the webpage


so you can see the cover, and what else is in it.
Aug. 3rd, 2006 01:46 pm (UTC)
Fantastic, thanks for the sites, I'll get my backside in gear and buy the book.

I've been busy sorting out the house sale, which will now happen on August 17th, and we arrive in Melbourne about a month later. It's been a long, stressful time since Mr Tanuja started travelling with his job. Hope life's treating you well, Dr Peek (IIRC you did get your PhD didn't you.)

Aug. 3rd, 2006 01:59 pm (UTC)
to melbourne, hey? you looking forward to it?

i am not yet dr peek. i am awaiting for one final marker to get back with the thesis. he/she is taking their time.
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